As a relationship expert I can tell you that the type and amount of energy we put into a relationship is the type and amount of energy we will reap from our partner. The more happiness we experience in our own lives generally leads to more happiness we are willing and able to spread to others. On a larger scale our actions can greatly impact others even if it seems insignificant in the moment.
For example, if you are in a bad mood after work and give your partner one word answers when she asks how your day was, the same negative energy will likely make its way back to you in time. Taking a step back to evaluate your life means creating time and space to gather thoughts, emotions, and to figure out how to direct your energy. You, and only you, have the power to alter your mood. Research has found that partaking in four intentional, affirmative behaviors a day leads to a positive shift in mood and greater happiness. The self is easily neglected by the stressors of daily living, but fortunately can be repaired by making a few simple changes to create a greater sense of emotional health. In turn, genuine happiness may then be shared with those you enjoy.
There are several key elements to happiness. In this post, I’ve listed a few that can make a great difference in your daily living.
How to Increase Happiness Behavior: Act in a way to achieve what you want.
This may be related to your goals or finding time and space to just “be” and re-center yourself. What actions in your daily living make you feel good? This may sound simplistic but when life travels at “100 miles an hour” each day, we are often disconnected from the impact our behavior has on our emotions. If socializing is an important part of your world then make sure you take time to connect with friends or family every day, even if it is only on the phone or via Skype. Other behaviors that increase feelings of happiness include saying kind statements to the self, relaxation, acknowledging small accomplishments, fun activities, and exercise.
Accept the emotion of happiness
This may seem silly but many people have a hard time accepting positive emotions. We may talk ourselves out of happiness in the moment, with statements such as “it won’t last long”, “when will this end”, or “what do I have to do later today.” The goal is to stay in the moment by enjoying and accepting the feeling of happiness. Statements such as “this feels good” might be a great place to start.
Live by your values
Have you ever noticed that when you start to act in ways that don’t feel right it often produces negative emotions about the self and others? This is often the result of derailed values; you are no longer acting within the constraints of your value system. By making a list of what you enjoy you will find themes and connections between what you most enjoy. This could include having close relationships, being honest, or living a healthy lifestyle. The more we direct energy into the areas we value, the happier we become. Keep in mind that balance is key. Set aside unrealistically high expectations of yourself. Our goal is to change behaviors and bring more positive emotions and reactions into our life. Unrealistic expectations of the self will only lead to distress, which brings me to the next topic of being kind to the self.
Change unhelpful thoughts
“Self talk” is our inner dialogue and it greatly influences how we feel and react to our environment. As we practice mindfulness and evaluate the types of self-statements we experience, we may find that we are our biggest critic. The beauty of being human is that we have the power to introduce new positive statements into our self-talk. For instance if I tell myself “that was stupid” I may feel sad or embarrassed. However, if I notice that statement and change it to a balanced thought such as “I made a mistake, I’ll try something different next time”, I may create the emotion of relief. The goal is to integrate kind statements into daily living to increase po sitive emotions and self-esteem.
Be aware of self-talk that interferes with making positive changes such as, “I don’t have the time” or “it’ll take too much energy.” By changing these thoughts to statements such as “I’ll try it and see what happens” we allow ourselves to be more open to options.
Let go of stress, the art of forgiveness
If you find yourself resenting things from the past, or experiencing personal guilt or disappointment, try to practice forgiveness. This is often not easy but once done it is liberating. This may include forgiving yourself or others. Consider creating a specific forgiveness ritual. An example could be writing a forgiveness letter then burning it.